My bike is a white Nishiki Manitoba that I got last year as a graduation present. When I got my driver’s license, my family had two cars to be shared among four people, so I was really only allowed to drive myself to work. I decided to start making the eight mile, downhill commute from my house to the center of Corning multiple times each week in order to get my last taste my hometown before going to Rochester for my first year of college. My parents put a bike rack on the back of their car so that I could meet my mom after she finished work and hitch a ride home instead of struggling through eight miles of uphill riding. On the days that I could not be driven home, I usually ended up sleeping on one of my friends’ couches and exploring the city until I felt like going home. I was deemed the “free-spirited cyclist” by my best friend and I took pride in the funny looks I got from strangers in the Wegmans parking lot as I strapped a loaf of bread to the side of my backpack (mom usually asked me to pick up groceries). Commuting in Corning was my choice, and I did it because I thought it was fun.
My dream one day is to have a nice Subaru Forester with a dog in the backseat and a bike rack on the trunk. But let’s face it, cars are expensive and I am a college student. This is my first summer away from home and commuting via bike has turned into more of a necessity than a hobby. While I love my bike, I have has some frustrating moments this summer when it comes to my complete reliance on cycling in order to go to doctor’s appointments and meetings. The inspiration for this blog came when I was caught in a rainstorm for the second time this week. It was originally going to be titled “The Pros and Cons of Being a Bicycle Commuter in Rochester” and I let myself think of enough cons to write a short essay while the rain soaked through my jacket and backpack. However, due to my attempts to remain an optimist and my distaste for lists of complaints, I forced myself to do some editing on thought-up blog for the rest of my rainy ride home.
The Pros of Being a Bicycle Commuter in Rochester
- You get to exercise.
This is a pretty simple one. Cycling happens to be a cardio exercise that is easy on your joints. I have a chronic foot injury, so cycling allows me to improve my cardio for track without constantly pounding my feet.
- You get the scenic route.
I find toll booths and traffic lights to be aesthetically pleasing just about as much as I like watching paint dry. However, riding my bike usually means that I get to make some of my commute on the Genesee Riverway Trail instead of the busy street of Rochester. I have been able to see waterfalls, birds, and boardwalks up close that I would never be able to see if I drove in a car.
- You can race cars.
While I have never been ambitious enough to actually race a car, I know that I can get places almost as fast as they can by using unconventional routes.
I will describe my racing abilities through a story:
Last week, I dropped off my bike at a shop to get the brakes replaced. The next day, I needed a ride to the shop in order to pick up my bike and ride it home. It took my boyfriend 23 minutes to drive from my house to the bike shop. It took me 26 minutes to ride from the bike shop to my house, including a slight detour when I got lost in the inner city.
- You save money.
I may have no idea how much gas costs right now, but I do know that every person with a car that I talk to complains about gas prices these days. Some people have suggested that I try using Uber. Sorry, but that $10.50 fee for a four mile drive is a little over half of my weekly food budget.
- You reduce emissions.
Although the production of a bike requires a lot of energy and fossil fuels, commuting by a bicycle still has less of an environmental impact than a car. This is mostly due to the fact that bicycles do not require the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels in order to transport the rider.
Even though my full reliance on a bike this summer can have its downsides, I am so thankful for each benefit that comes along. There are obviously more pros to be added to this list, but those were the main five I thought of when I got drenched in the rain. Hey, I thought of another– free showers! Just kidding.
Written by Michaela Burrell, Class of 2020